President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday issued Executive Order No. 57, establishing the National Coast Watch System (NCWS), in response to the ongoing tension in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the NCWS will help protect the country from maritime threats.
“In issuing EO 57, the President emphasizes the government’s firm commitment to prioritize maritime security in the country, especially in the face of maritime challenges and threats such as terrorism, transnational crimes, drug and firearms trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, climate change, illegal fishing, marine environment degradation and other security concerns,’’ said Ochoa in a statement.
The EO will serve as the “central inter-agency mechanism for a more coordinated approach on maritime issues and maritime security operations to enhance governance of the country’s maritime domain,” Ochoa added.
The EO also expands the coverage of Coast Watch South to the entire archipelago, from only the southern part of it.
The order also abolishes the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs (CMOA), a body created by then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007 through EO 612.
The CMOA will be replaced by the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC), which will be in charge of “formulating strategic direction and policy guidance for the NCWS, specifically on maritime security operations and multinational and cross-border cooperation on maritime security.”
Ochoa will head the NCWC, with the secretaries of the Department of National Defense (DND), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Department fo Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) as its members.
The EO also creates the National Coast Watch Center, which will be headed by the Philippine Coast Guard.
The NCWS will be provided P20 million as its initial budget, which will come from the general fund of the DOE.
However, the EO also “allows the council and the center to accept donations, contributions or grants from domestic or foreign sources subject to government accounting and auditing rules and regulations.”
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